Foreign bids for Australian businesses will face beefed up investment rules designed to guard against predators swooping during the coronavirus crisis.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will be able to block any overseas takeovers after the threshold to intervene was temporarily slashed from $1.2 billion to zero.
It comes amid concerns cashed-up foreign predators could target Australian businesses following major losses on the share market.
Mr Frydenberg denied the move was aimed at Chinese state-owned enterprises, pointing to US investment in Australia far outstripping the Asian superpower.
"We want to stop any predatory behaviour that is not in the national interest," he told 3AW radio on Monday.
Chinese firms invested $13 billion in Australia last year, while US companies made investments worth $58 billion.
But Liberal backbenchers have raised concerns Australian companies could be exposed after company values slumped in stock exchange carnage.
Chinese companies bought Australian medical supplies in recent weeks with the virus sparking a surge in demand.
Mr Frydenberg said national security, competition issues, tax concerns and the investors' character would shape any decision to block foreign investment.
"This is a precautionary, temporary measure to increase our visibility and scrutiny over all foreign investment proposals to ensure that they're in the national interest," he told ABC radio.
He said foreign investment had served Australia well, with one-in-10 local businesses benefiting.
"We want that foreign investment to continue in Australia, not just during the coronavirus crisis, but also in the days and months and the years after," the treasurer said.
Under the old rules, companies from countries with free trade agreements could make scrutiny-free bids for Australian assets with a value of less than $1.2 billion.
Now all overseas offers will have to get the green light from the federal treasurer regardless of the sector or nation involved.
The measure will remain in place for the duration of the crisis.
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said Labor would support the move in principle.
"This sounds like a sensible step in uncertain times," he told AAP.
Australian Associated Press